Should Ramaz Have School on Chol Hamoed Sukkot?

Students+tie+dying+shirts+in+the+Sukkah+in+2019.

Students tie dying shirts in the Sukkah in 2019.

Joe Kaplan '24

Every year, Ramaz students ask the same questions: why do we seem to be the only yeshiva day school to have school on Chol Hamoed Sukkot? Why do we have school on Chol Hamoed Sukkot and not Chol Hamoed Pesach? They’re both holidays, and both follow a similar structure. Chol Hamoed is on the same days of the week for Sukkot and Pesach so what’s the difference?  

There is no difference between the two.  They are both meant to be time spent with family. Sukkot should be an opportunity for us to all be with our extended families, many of whom may be students at other yeshiva day schools, who are on vacation during Sukkot. Some of us have siblings at other yeshiva day schools who are on vacation during Chol Hamoed Sukkot. Because Ramaz’s winter break coincides with that of public and independent schools, rather than that of other yeshiva day schools, our students already have less time to spend with their families. Ramaz junior, Caleb Rosenfeld, says that “My cousins don’t have school during Chol Hamoed Sukkot, and Sukkot would be a great opportunity to spend time with them.”

With all of the family time we are missing out on over Sukkot, there should really be a good reason for us to be going to school on Chol Hamoed. I haven’t heard one yet.

The most common reason given is that the only opportunity for many students and teachers to fulfill the mitzvah of eating in a Sukkah is during the school day, when they can eat in the Ramaz Sukkah. If there was no school on Sukkot, those students and teachers would not have a chance to eat in a Sukkah. While I cannot argue with the idea of helping others fulfill a mitzvah, I don’t think that requiring all students to attend school is necessary. I would like to propose a simple solution: the building and its Sukkah can remain open to anyone who wants to eat in it. In fact, maybe the upper school building can close completely. The KJ Sukkah already remains open throughout Chol Hamoed, providing a place for all of us to fulfill this mitzvah.